Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
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***Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen

by Fay Weldon

Reviewed December 6, 2003.
Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York, 1999 (First published in 1984).  155 pages.
Out of print, but with limited availability on

Here is a novel written in the form of letters from a literary Aunt Fay to her niece, Alice, who is studying English literature and hopes to be a writer herself.  Alice doesn’t see the point of studying Jane Austen and finds her books boring, petty and irrelevant.

Aunt Fay makes a spirited defense of the value of Jane Austen’s works.  In the process, she presents many facts about Jane Austen’s life and gives a wonderful introduction to most of her books, telling the circumstances in which they were written.  Along the way, she also discusses the value of literature, the writing process and the life of a writer.

This book has a fictional framework, but the meat of it consists of nonfiction essays on literature and writing and Jane Austen.  Fans of any of those things will find it diverting, entertaining, and instructive.


Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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